Imaging PCs as part of an overall Lifecycle Management solution, is a common way to address Operating System provisioning and client reset. Norton’s Ghost being one of the most widely used. Indeed most common tools in the PC Lifecycle Management space offer one of the many imaging approaches as part of their toolset. However, imaging has gained an awful reputation as a solution for initial PC provisioning for three key reasons:
1. The plethora of patches released by Microsoft and other vendors today make imaging fluid for IT. Each time new patches are released the image becomes obsolete. At some point the image must be rebuilt to include new patches. That new image not only must be rebuilt but must be tested.
2. Most organizations are faced with multiple images to support all of the disparate hardware platforms in the environment. This is due to the different driver permutations required for each unique machine model.
3. Imaging cannot personalize the install of the operating system for each user. Users personalize their workstations extensively, including themes, preferences, credentials, internet browser, Outlook settings, mapped drives, wireless network settings etc. etc. Imaging does not take into account these settings unless an unique image is created for each user.
How Scalable’s Lifecycle Management Suite Product Can Help
Scalable’s WinINSTALL LMS product completely solves these three imaging issues, without introducing any new challenges to the task of provisioning and reset. Indeed WinINSTALL LMS customers, who have used it as an imaging alternative, all report a dramatic improvement in PC Lifecycle Management efficiency.
Using WinINSTALL LMS, as the best ghost alternative, the above challenges are addressed as follows:
1. WinINSTALL LMS uses PXE to provision Operating Systems. The provisioning occurs by means of a template that defines high-level configuration requirements for the target machine. At installation time, WinINSTALL LMS, using its award-winning patch management component, slipstreams current Operating System patches into the installation process. The result is the target machine is always at the latest patch-level without any changes to the template or OS image. The use of PXE, as a ghost alternative, enables the process to be completed within a matter of minutes, which comparable to the time to provision using imaging.
2. The WinINSTALL LMS OS template is platform sensitive. Unlimited driver options exist, which are dynamically selected by the template at installation time. This means a single template can support any number of machines on a particular operating system, regardless of the driver needs for that machine. Compare this to the situation with imaging, where each machine variant requires a separate image. As a ghost alternative for OS provisioning, WinINSTALL LMS can dramatically reduce management complexity.
3. WinINSTALL LMS has been enhanced to use the Microsoft USMT V4 capability which is now available as part of the PXE process. This feature enables workstation personalities to be injected into the installation process seamlessly. An OS installation or reset with WinINSTALL LMS will ensure the target machine is left with exactly the desired personality, with no further configuration. Users will have all their Outlook settings correctly configured, mapped drives, themes, application portfolio and settings, browser bookmarks and much more. To achieve the same level of customization using imaging would require a unique image per machine, with all the attendant management headaches of changes to the image to support items 1 and 2 above.
A more detailed analysis of the above solutions to challenges of imaging, and how WinINSTALL provides an excellent alternative, is available for download here